Everybody ready for the last two classes? Francesco Crisafulli and M° Roberto Baldinelli on Law and Music!

Dear all,

the last two classes of this 2015 “Law and the Humanities” course will be devoted, as you know, to “Law and Music”. The classes will be taught by judge Francesco Crisafulli, former Co-agent of the Italian government at the Permanent Representation of Italy to the Council of Europe, in collaboration with M° Roberto Baldinelli (violinist and lawyer). These classes are open to all people interested.

They will take place, as usual, at 2:00 PM in room 3 on Wednesday (May 20th) and at 10:00 AM in room 4 on Thursday (May 21st).

poster_from_postermywall law and music


Law & music might appear as one of the most recent and less investigated frontiers of the law & literature movement. To some extent this is true. However, the interface between law and music has also been the subject of important studies in ancient times (Plato in particular), in the middle age (one of the first examples is the anonymous treatise of the fourteenth century Ars cantus mensurabilis mensurata per modus iuris) and during the twentieth century. Prominent legal scholars have written about musical estethics and musicology (Pugliatti) and at the same time several important composers and musicians have been trained in the law (among the others C. P. E. Bach, Schumann, Stravinsky, Nono).

The most important intersection between the two disciplines is represented by the theory of interpretation. Interpreting and performing a score raises a set of questions involves a range of problems not entirely different from interpreting a constitution, a statute, a regulation, or even a legal precedent. During the lectures, judge Crisafulli and M. Baldinelli will deal with these issues both from a legal and a musical perspective.


J. Frank, Words and Music: Some Remarks on Statutory Interpretation, in “Columbia Law Review”, 47.8 (1947), 1259-1278

S. Levinson-J.M. Balkin, Law, Music, and Other Performing Arts, in “U. Pa. L. Rev”, 139 (1991), 1597 ss.

18 thoughts on “Everybody ready for the last two classes? Francesco Crisafulli and M° Roberto Baldinelli on Law and Music!

  1. Antonio Belviso says:

    Music is defined as “art of sounds and silences in time”. It involves the sense of hearing, spreading through sound waves, but these sounds and these silences are codified in another language: a written language. Only in XI century, Guido d’Arezzo, defined musical language, as we know. He placed each of the 12 sounds of tempered system, in a precise position in a musical staff. He also gave to each sound of the scale a different name, using the syllables of St. John’s anthem, corresponding to those sounds: (UT queant laxis REsonare fibris MIra gestorum FAmuli tuorum SOLve polluti LAbii reatum Sancte Iohannes): it was born musical notation.

    Every conductor or performer, in front of a score, firstly has to read the written text of a score and translates it in language of sounds. In the same way you can translate a novel by english writer in italian language; in the same way a judge reads a rule of law and tries to translate it into a concrete case. Translation is not a mechanical exercise. Composers use expressions often subjective. Expecially dynamics (how strong is mezzoforte?) and agogic (how fast is andante?). In these expression there is a range of meaning attribution (in the same way a penal rule provides minumums and maximums for punishments), You will have to choose it the most possible in accordance to composer’s will (in law f.e. preparatory works, authentic interpretation), but determined also by other reasons . Only after respecting as much as possibile the wil of the author, performer can interpret the music, thanks to his personal discretionary rendering feelings, expecially at points where composer omitted to specify indications or advices: composer can’t write everything on the score, otherwise it will be unreadable. This is the same thing that judge do, when he applies analogy, in case of a blank in the law. Musical interpreter applies analogy too, f.e. referring to what the same composer wrote in a similar passage of another score (a sort of analogia legis), or playing having in mind the entire style of the historical period in which the author wrote the music, so using philological criteria (a sort of analogia iuris). Sometimes, as in law, it happens that a strong interpreter consolidate a certain interpretation, even incorrect. And the other ones, emulates him, reproducing the same error.

    This is a clamorous example:
    This is a scene from “Rigoletto” by G. Verdi. This is the original score. I marked the held note

    The solmization of this passage is C(è) — D(fol-) — E(-li-) — D(-i-) — C(-a). This is what Verdi wrote on the paper. But strangely it is practically never played in this way. Almost every conductor make a different version: C(è) — E(fol-) — G(-li-) – C(-a). I uploaded this video in which you can hear both versions. Only the conductor Riccardo Muti, plays correctly the passage:

    Certainly the second version is more exciting, but it is not correct, expecially for stage reasons. Imagine a jester: his profession is laugh at all, and being mocked by everything. One night he is cursed by Monterone. Coming back home, he thinks back to the curse. He is upset, but then he says to himself: “it’s only a folly” (è follia!), but it is not a true conviction: only a way to banish from his mind a thought that is tormenting him. As soon as he opens the door of his home, a new world opens for him, music changes and he momentarily forgets the curse: his dughter Gilda welcomes him, she is the only good thing in his life, that nobody knows. There is a high contrast of feelings between terror and tenderness. Now, thinking back to what it said in last class about faithfullness to the text (in this case a musical text), which version is the best?


  2. Antonio Belviso says:


    Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXX, Gianni Schicchi is an opera in one act written by the florentine lawyer and Dantist, Giovacchino Forzano, and put into the music by the greatest opera composer of the last century, Giacomo Puccini, premiered at Metropolitan Opera in 1918. It is the only opera buffa written by the Master of Lucca, included in the collection so called “The Triptych”, the 9th and second-last opera by Puccini. It tells the story of Gianni Schicchi de’Cavalcanti, a florentine homo novus, well known for his sharpness. One day he is called hastily (although reluctantly) by the aristocratic family of Donati (Rinuccio, the last Donati descendant, is engaged to Schicchi’s daughter, Lauretta) to help them: Buoso Donati the old founder of the family has just died and he left all his goods to a brotherhood of friars (opera di S. Reparata, the ancient name of Florence cathedral S. Maria del Fiore): they are upset, discovering this testament. Nobody knows yet about Buoso’s death, so Gianni Schicchi prepares a diabolical plan, you can know watching the video below [I uploaded these short excerpts subtitled in english from Glyndebourne stage of 2004; Gianni Schicchi is performed in florentine accent by the excellent A. Corbelli]

    Forzano used in this scene the original verses written by Dante (Falsificò in sé Buoso Donati/ Testando e dando al testamento norma). But after the immediate joy reaction of Donatis, Schicchi warns them about the penal consequences, provided by a decree, if the plain fails [the grotesque “Addio Firenze” you can hear below].

    The family hold with Schicchi about the division of Buoso’s properties, that he will dictate, disguised as Buoso Donati, in front of a notary; but they leave to Schicchi the decision about assignment of three goods: 1) the house in Florence in which they are, 2) the mills at Signa 3) “La donna della torma”, the best she-mule in Tuscany. And Schicchi decides in that way… [this is the most famous scene of the opera, funny and dramatic at the same time: the will scene.]

    At the end, Schicchi, drives away Donatis from house, of which he became owner after the testament dictation, and then he donates it to Rinuccio and Lauretta, in order that it will be their home after the marriage. In that way, the character of Schicchi is revalued completely, compared to Dante’s description. In fact, at the end, showing the lovers, Schicchi explicitly asks to the audience the extenuating circumstances for his cheat. In about 50 minutes, Puccini realized a masterpiece of modern theatre: laugh and tears, hope and fear, plot twist, grotesque and dramatic mood, in peculiar Puccini’s music style: a style that enchanted the world and continues to be the reference to make songs today. 90 years old after his death, he is still the most performed opera composer all over the world.


  3. Charles says:

    Today it was a very stimulating lesson. It made me think about a few things.
    i’d like to begin be the last thing that occurs to me.

    At the end an analogy has been made beetween the judge and the performer, who, both adaptating a text to make it vivid, are, in a way linked.

    i think, like the first quotation of Plato was justly stressing out, music can impact behaviours, altering laws.

    If we take the example of hip hop music at its beginnings it was thought and created as a meaning to erase and control violence of the poor and black youth, making it something more positive, more creative.

    In this almost spiritual and political way of thinking (if we take music as a way to influence behaviours, to govern and legislate), hip hop manifestations and expresisons (battles, parties, contest, competition) were most of the time animated by a DJ and his “deputy” an MC.

    MC is like an antique way to say “rapper”. But it has a more profound and may be legal meaning: Master of Ceremony.

    His role was to animate, in music, like a speaker, those manifestations. He also acted like a referee between the parties struggling to obtain a victory, leading the course of a party in some way. He had a social role.

    That’s for the first comment.


  4. Charles says:

    The second one is also based on an analogy.

    The lesson at the end was also about judge as some kind of media beetween law and the “human realm”, like he was the incarnation, the embodiement of it. Therefore was at the same time the border between mankind and something that could considered as above it, ruling it.

    Let us recalling what is the origin in European tradition, of the first Aoidos (poet) who is Orpheus. Ancestor an fouding father of poetry, music and all related things (as much as he is a demigod).
    The aoidos it is said, in greek tradition to be the media between gods and man, he is said to have a god living in him, taking control of him so he can transmit and create things that should normaly be outside of human range.
    So a poet, who can only be a poet as he musically declaim a poem, is in some way very close and very to this interpretation of what a judge can be.

    Moreover Orpheus is told to has been able to control the whole wilderness (elements, beasts) with the power of his voice, and music. (See Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica and Pausanias, IX, XXX). And also being able to subvert the law of the gods, and laws of life itself when he succed to convince Persephone, to let his wife escape from hell (Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, IV, XXV)..

    Therefore, the aoidos/ poet can be seen at the same time as lawmaker and a media between gods and man.


  5. Federica Celli says:

    When in yesterday’s lesson we talked about score isn’t music and statute isn’t law, I’ve found a similar situation in what happened in painting art, a situation that is explicitly represented in the Magritte’s painting “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”.

    Magritte wanted to underline that when we are looking to a painting which depicts something, we have to keep in mind that we are only seeing a representation of that something and that represantation isn’t the reality, which the painter decided to depict, but it becomes a sort of reality thanks to the imagination of the person who is looking at the painting. At the same time when we look to a statute, as we were saying at lesson, we are just looking to a text because that text can be considered as law only when it is applied and we said also that the same happened to music when the score isn’t music, but it becomes music once is it performed.
    I think also that there is an analogy between the role of the legislator, the painter and the musician. All these three figures, as we were saying at the end of yesterday’s lesson, plays an important role. The legislator, the painter and the musician are the the commanders in law, arts and music, and they decide what to regulate, what to depict and what to play.


  6. Emanuele Ballabene says:

    What a incredible class today! It’s fantastic (but rare!) listen to the music at the university.
    For me, music is always the most personal,emotional and deep art in the world:although it has to respect its rules (lets try to play C after C#, it’s orrible!),music is a wholly free art. Music has the power of explain every kind of feeling, it alway arouses emotions.
    Music needs instrument to be music:a score without sound is only a piece of paper. This is a resemblance with law: a statute has to be applied to show its effect. But a statute has to be understandable for all, a score on the contrary is understandable for musicians.
    A word can have some meaning, but in some cases only one; in a score C means the first chord, but if I tune differently my instrument, C can become B, C# or what I want. This is the real power of music:what we call “interpretation” is our idea, our feeling about a score.
    Of course there are limits (I hate a modern rap version of “Bohemian Rapsody”!), but sometimes were born masterpieces. I think about “Bouree” by Jethro Tull in 1969: it is a cover of “Bouree” by Bach, but,changing part of the score and playing especially flute and bass, today we consider this a new song, wich made know us also the Bach’s version.
    Interpretation of a statute by judge is a necessary consequence,and can change in time:lets thing about “ordine pubblico” or “buon costume”:today are of course two different concepts from 1950.
    Besides interpretation of statutes regards very important interests:a judge cannot prevent mother from seeing her sons.
    Although there are only 7 chords,interpretation offers infinites possibilities:a young musician, learning to play guitar, has certainly tried to play “knocking on Heaven’s door” by Bob Dylan, or “Smoke on the water” by Deep Purple:music is freedom to express our emotions.
    Music, I think, is the truthful mirror of life.


  7. diana martellini says:

    really really a great couple of hours! this is one on my last lesson in university ever, and i’m can safely say that this has been one of the most intresting lesson i ever attended in my whole period in roma tre. i don’t think there’s more to add to what we witnessed today….music is emotion at the most deep level possible and words can’t explain that feeling, each one of us gets different “vibes” and we litterally feel it within ourselves


  8. Chiara Casuccio says:

    How can law, but in general how can high ideals, such as peace , use music for their own purposes?
    This can be easly explained making the example of the use Jimi Hendrix made of the sound of his guitar and the great symbol he confered to it. He played in Woodstock with his “distorted” Fender(which means that it was making a scratchy sound, something already revolutionary for music at that time) the American national hymn and interspersing the hymn with the sound of the bombs (also reproduced with the guitar) symbolizing the horrible war in Vietnam – where i fought too-. This was a very incisive appeal for peace (one of the main themes of the Festival ) ” infecting” the minds of youngers, expecially in relatioship with what we said about the capability of Music, maybe more than other diciplines, to move people’s emotions.
    I’d compare (because of being antithetic with it) this hymn for the peace, a sort of prayer, an esortation and somehow a teaching with Obama’s legitimation-of-war speach, to underline how definitely law, politic and ideals uses all the different humanities – music and narrative in these cases- to carry forward their own aims.
    Here’s Jimi’s performance:

    I also take this opportunity to thank the guests of today and all past weeks along with the professors for teaching us not only new knowledge but also new ways of seeing the world and to think, as well as giving us new emotions, remebering us that we’re never “just lawyers”.


  9. Jessica Ferrazza says:

    Now that the course is over I would really like to say that it’s been a great experience: Being at the first year of law school is always a little bit scary because you have to deal for the first time with codes, norms, articles and so on and sometimes it came to my mind “So? That’s all? For the next five years I’m going to learn only norms and numbers of articles?” but attending this class has been very inspiring for me because I’ve learnt that law is not only what I thought it was what usually think it is, law is music, law is narrative, law is art, law is architecture. I can really see it now, if you think about it law can be seen almost in everything we approach to and it’s very interesting trying to discover if something could be related to it. This course has put law under a new light to me!


  10. Martina Diglio says:

    Even for me yesterday was my last lesson at university ever, and I really appreciated it because it was absolutely out of the common. I am very very ignorant in music so I couldn’t really understand everything about what was said. I couldn’t even imagine- I had never thought about that- that even music could been interpreted as well as law, so I was fascinated by the comparison between scores and statues and music and law. I was something totally new for me.

    Anyway I had in mind a song that I discovered by chance when I was attending the international humanitarian law course: Zombie by an irish rock band, the Cranberries. It was written in 1993, in memory of two boys who were killed in a bomb attack by IRA in Warrington, England. The song wants to denounce the violence and the tensions created by the situation of North Ireland, attempting to be removed from United Kingdom. In fact the song refers also to the “1916”, to the easter rebellion, and armed insurrection that took place in Ireland in that period. The song wants to underline that things aren’t changed too much from that moment on, in fact, people is still dying. I think that this song can be a good example to understand how music can have a role in shaking public opinion and, in some way, make us think.


  11. Ada Maria Corrado says:

    Martina, “Zombie” reminded me of yet another very famous song that was written about the northern irish question. If you’re interested in it I totally recommend it: i’m talking about Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2.
    Its lyrics describe the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where on 30 January 1972 British soldiers shot 13 unarmed civil rights protesters who were there to rally against internment.
    A line that always makes me think is:

    And it’s true we are immune
    When fact is fiction and TV reality
    And today the millions cry
    We eat and drink while tomorrow they die

    I don’t want to get rethorical, so I’ll let the words speak for themselves.


  12. Flavia Guglielmi says:

    After the last lessons I thought about the relationship between law and music and I want to propose one of my favourite song “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” written by the great Bob Dylan.
    The main incident of the song took place in the early hours of February 9, 1963, at the white tie Spinsters’ Ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore. Using a toy cane, William Devereux “Billy” Zantzinger (whom the song calls “William Zanzinger”), drunkenly assaulted at least three of the Emerson Hotel workers: a bellboy, a waitress, and — at about 1:30 in the morning of the 9th — Carroll, a 51 year old barmaid. The woman died after few days for the serious injuries reported.
    Zantzinger was initially charged with murder. His defense was that he had been extremely drunk,[5] and he admitted to having no memory of the attack. His charge was reduced to manslaughter and assault, based on the likelihood that it was her stress reaction to his verbal and physical abuse that led to the intracranial bleeding, rather than blunt-force trauma from the blow that left no lasting mark. On August 28, Zantzinger was convicted of both charges and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. But the Bob Dylan’s songs condamn him forever.
    In this song the issues of the racial segregation and the pursuit of justice intersect themselves with a strong criticism of the justice: the author in effect criticize the paltry sentence for the murder.
    this is the video of the song:

    In conclusion I want to spend few words about the end of our course: I can say that it has been a really great opportunity. I am at the end of my university career and in these five years I followed a lot of “academical” lessons (the professor explained the rules only with the help of the code). Sometimes our studies can be a little bit arid but this law and humanities course made me think about some aspect of the law that I’ve never thought.


  13. Antonio Belviso says:


    Is an opera composed by the great Czech operatic composer Leoš Janáček, inspired by playwright Karel Čapek, It deals with a legal affair:
    The lawyer Kolenatý is working on the case Gregor contra Prus, a case that has been going on for almost a century: Baron Joseph Ferdinand Prus died in 1827, leaving no will or legitimate children. His cousin claimed the estate, but so did Albert’s ancestor, Ferdinand Gregor, who asserted that the Baron had promised the estate to him both presenting different evidence to their case but no actual will. Emilia Marty a famous singer, affirms that Ferdinand Gregor was the illegitimate son of Baron Joseph and opera singer Ellian MacGregor. Emilia says that there is in fact a will and proceeds to describe an old cupboard in the Prus mansion where important papers were kept where he will find the document they need. They found the will where Emilia said it would be, and Jaroslav Prus (the last Baron’s legitimate descendant) congratulates Albert on his victory, but he has to prove that Ferdinand Gregor was really the Baron’s illegitimate son. Emilia says she can prove that.

    In the next Act Emilia is rehearsing in theatre. Old Count Hauk-Šendorf enters, and thinks he recognizes Emilia as Eugenia Montez, a Gypsy woman with whom he had an affair in Andalusia half a century before. Remained alone, Jaroslav demands her an explanation of her strange interest in his family, and reveals that the mother of the Baron’s child was recorded as Elina Makropulos, who might be the same as Ellian MacGregor whose love letters he has read. He points out to her that initial letters of all names in this story are the same: E. M. (Emilia Marty, Ellian MacGregor, Elina Makropulos, Eugenia Montez). Emilia asks him to get the document for her. Jaroslav agrees to provide the document himself if Emilia will spend the night with him

    Kolenatý has noticed that Emilia’s handwriting matches that of Ellian MacGregor and suspects her of forgery. He enters with Albert in Emilia’s room and they begin to rummage in Emilia’s suitcase. The searchers find many documents and keepsakes, all bearing names with the initials E. M., Jaroslav says that the handwriting of Elina Makropulos (on Ferdinand’s birth certificate) also matches that of Emilia.
    Emilia at last decides to tell the truth: she is Elina Makropulos, born in 1585, daughter of Hieronymus Makropulos, an alchemist in Emperor Rudolf II’s Court, who ordered him to prepare a potion that would extend his life, but ordered his alchemist to test it on her. She fell into a coma, and Hieronymus was sent to prison. After a week, Elina woke up and fled with the formula, and now she has lived an itinerant life for three centuries, becoming one of the best singers of all time. To conceal her longevity, she has assumed many identities: Eugenia Montez, Ekaterina Myshkin, Ellian McGregor, and others whose initials always are E.M. She confided her secret to Baron Joseph and gave him the formula, which he attached to his will for his son.
    The potion is finally wearing off. Elina wanted the formula to gain another 300 years of life. As the potion wears off and the first signs of old age appear on her face, they come to believe her. Elina has realized that perpetual youth has led her to exhausted apathy and resolves to allow death to come naturally to her and expires as she recites the first words of the Lord’s Prayer in Greek.


  14. Beatriz Souza says:

    I’d like to point out the similarity between serialism (from which derives dodecaphony, mentioned in class) and legal positivism. Both advocated a very strict view on interpretation; integral or total serialism tried to define duration, dynamics and pitch through “series”, while legal positivism tried to define law as the sum of texts approved by authorities that held the political power to do so. Both restrained immensely the role of the interpreter (the musician and the judge should focus on form and not on substance), and both sooner or later were discarded in their fields (at least positivism had to face heavy criticism and accept that this theory could not address reality as it is).

    Apart from that, I’d like to thank professors and the guests, that kindly reminded us that law is a social science – and therefore that we are not (and should not) isolated from the other sciences; they can shed light on how law works and in a multitude of other aspects of law. Thank you so much.


  15. giulio says:

    About the last class in law and music, i’d like to point out another interesting topic on the music seen as liturgy describing the creation of universe; in the Silmarillion John R.R. Tokien clearly inspired by christian faith talks about the Ainur. The Ainur, after seen the vision of Iluvatar, began to sing and play their music and from this music the world of Arda was created. In the middle of the liturgy played and singed by the Ainurs, one of them began to sing a different music, following a different score and diverging from the one indicated by Iluvatar; so we have here a strong contrast between two different scores that creates different visions of the world, the Good anbd the Evil.


  16. giulio says:

    Another interesting example of law and music the opera “pagliacci”.It is inspired by a crime actually happened in Montalto Uffugo in Calabria (when the composer was a child), and after which the father of Ruggero Leoncavallo, who was magistrate instructed the process that led to the conviction of the “uxoricida”

    The work was, and still is, one of the most performed operas in the world; instant success is explained in current language and approach realistic and popular at that time permeated all the arts. Two elements, however, have played a major role: the commitment Image Sonzogno (rival at the time, Ricordi, publisher of Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini), and the famous record label, with Enrico Caruso as a player; the hard fact is remembered as a milestone of the then nascent recording industry, having been the first to have more than one million copies sold.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. antonyroma says:

    Plagiarism in music is an important aspect, concerning intellectual property, like all other artworks. Plagiarism may concern a limited part of a composition, but it is necessary that it is involved the core of it. The partial similarity, confined to a few bars, is not considered as a plagiarism. There isn’t a uniform jurisprudencial way in this matter. It is not so simple to invoke a plagiarism infringement. There aren’t general criteria (someone believe that it is a plagiarism the similarity of 8 bars, for others, instead, it is enough 4 bars). According to law, it is necessary that the second song arouses the same feelings of the first song. When someone brings a court action for plagiarism, the judge appoints a music consultant: he will redact a technical expertise, evaluating about the existence or not of a plagiarism infringement. If the plagiarism is found, the song will be withdrawn from the market, with high penalties, or sanctioned with devolution of revenues to the offended. Sometimes plagiarism cases are specious, while in the past plagiarism consisted only in assonance of entire sections of a music. About it, Ennio Morricone used these words: “Catchy music, just because catchy, resembles something already written, already proposed to the people. If it had not been heard, It would have no success”. In the same way, Musical director of Teatro alla Scala, R. Chailly, said in an interview that there isn’t a composer really original in history of music, except maybe only Schubert, the most representative of romantic composers. He continued saying “I believe that there is no composer who, enamored of some fruit of his imagination, did not want to hold out for transplanting later in some of his other work”: this is the so called self-quotation. In this funny video I will show some famous musical similarities. All of them are great musicians, interesting in their own works but also in the other composers’ works of the same time or from past times. Call them as you want: plagiarism, homages, imitations, emulations, admirations?


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